The Nats finally get Ryan Zimmerman back into a suddenly potent lineup, and continue their longest winning streak in several years. How’d our guys fare heading into the weekend Interleague series with the Orioles?
- Livan Hernandez pitched perhaps his best game in a Nats uniform on June 15th (box/gamer) against the powerful St. Louis lineup. A 3-hit shutout. Three errors and 4 bombs from his improving offense definitely helped, but he would have won this game even with his typical crummy run support. Game score on the night: 87. Nice. (Verlander’s no hitter on May 7th scored a 90, for comparison purposes). For a nice overview of the Bill James Gamescore, and a list of the greatest pitching performances in National’s history, read Zuckerman’s piece here.
- John Lannan continues to look like a different pitcher than earlier this season, throwing his sixth straight quality start in the St. Louis series finale on 6/16 (box/gamer). He was denied the spoils of victory though, with Danny Espinosa’s walkoff 3-run shot giving Burnett a victory. The win pulled the Nats out of last place in the NL east for the first time this late in the season since perhaps 2005.
- While not quite as dominant as his past few starts, Jordan Zimmermann threw yet another quality start in saturday 6/18’s game versus Baltimore (box/gamer). He went 6 1/3, giving up 2 runs on 8 hits for his 9th consecutive quality start. In that time he’s driven his ERA from 4.55 to its current 3.08, good enough for 12th in the NL as of 6/19. Can we say “second Ace” yet?
- Jason Marquis somehow willed his way out of 12 hits in less than 6 innings without giving up a dozen runs, settling for 4 against the Orioles on friday night (box/gamer). The Orioles certainly did not hit well with RISP, and it cost them as the Nats bats continued to be hot and they extended their winning streak.
- Tom Gorzelanny’s return from the DL was poor: he failed to get out of the 5th inning and got pounded by the Orioles to end the Nats 8-game winning streak on 6/19 (box/gamer). He gave up 10 hits for 5 runs (4 earned) on the afternoon. No strikeouts for the team’s leading k/9 guy, making you wonder if he’s rushed back from his injury. His velocity seemed ok and he was pitching to contact … but the Orioles aren’t exactly a weak-hitting team. We’ll have to hope for a stronger start next time out.
Starter Trends: Lannan and Zimmermann continue their hot streaks, Livan continues his yo-yo-ing of performances, and Marquis gets a win on a day he got hit around pretty badly.
MLB Trends (through gorzelanny 6/19)
Relievers of Note
- Boy its nice to see a bullpen full of shut-down arms. A quick glance at the ERA+ stats of our bullpen as of 6/19 offers up some pretty dominant figures. Storen-159, Clippard-197, Rodriguez-219, Coffey-183, Mattheus-infinite (he’s yet to give up a run in two appearances). Only Balester and Burnett have sub 100 figures. The ERA+ is a bit deceptive for certain people (for example, Doug Slaten has a 179 figure despite a god-awful WHIP and a horrible inherited runners-scoring track record) but for the most part does a good job characterizing the performance of pitchers over the long haul.
Thoughts on the offense
- Rick Ankiel can’t seem to catch a break this season, going back on the DL to let a strained rib cage muscle heal properly. The move was fortuitous for the Nats, who needed to activate Tom Gorzelanny to make his 6/20 start and offers a stay of execution for (likely) Brian Bixler on the active roster.
- 6 of the 8 starting hitters for this team now feature OPS+ stats > 100. Only Desmond and Bernadina (who just missed out with a 95 OPS+) are struggling to join the hit parade.
- More importantly for our power-starved team, with 43% of the season gone we’ve got 4 players on pace to eclipse 20 homers on the season (Werth, Nix, Morse and Espinosa), and Zimmerman may pick up the pace and threaten that same mark. Espinosa is noteworthy as the team leader, currently on pace for 27-28 homers during his rookie season, from the 2nd base position. He may become a very valuable player indeed.